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General Practice 2023

Understand why pâncreas transplantation can cure diabetes

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Understand why pâncreas transplantation can cure diabetes
Understand why pâncreas transplantation can cure diabetes

Pancreas transplantation exists, and is indicated for people with type 1 diabetes who cannot control their blood glucose with insulin or who already have serious complications, such as renal failure, so that the disease can be controlled and stop its development of complications.

This transplant can cure diabetes, removing or reducing the need for insulin, however it is indicated in very special cases, as it also presents risks and disadvantages, such as the possibility of complications, such as infections and pancreatitis, in addition to the need for use of immunosuppressive drugs for life to prevent rejection of the new pancreas.

When transplantation is indicated

Generally, the indication for pancreas transplantation is done in 3 ways:

  • Simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplantation: indicated for patients with type 1 diabetes with severe chronic renal failure, undergoing dialysis or pre-dialysis;
  • Pancreas transplantation after kidney transplantation: indicated for patients with type 1 diabetes who have already had a kidney transplant, with current good kidney function, to treat the disease in a more effective, and avoid other complications such as retinopathy, neuropathy and heart disease, in addition to preventing new kidney complications;
  • Isolated pancreas transplantation: indicated for some specific cases of type 1 diabetes, under the guidance of an endocrinologist, for people who, in addition to being at risk for diabetes complications, such as retinopathy, neuropathy, kidney or cardiovascular disease, also have frequent hypoglycemia or ketoacidosis crises, which cause various disorders and complications to the person's he alth.

It is also possible to perform a pancreas transplant in people with type 2 diabetes, when the pancreas can no longer produce insulin, and there is kidney failure, but without severe resistance to insulin by the body, which will be determined by the doctor, through of exams.

How the transplant is done

To perform the transplant, the person needs to be placed on a waiting list, after being referred by the endocrinologist, which, in Brazil, takes about 2 to 3 years.

For pancreas transplantation, a surgery is performed, which consists of removing the pancreas from the donor, after brain death, and implanting it in the person in need, in a region close to the bladder, without removing the deficient pancreas.

After the procedure, the person can recover in the ICU for 1 to 2 days, and then remain hospitalized for about 10 days to evaluate the body's reaction, with tests, and to prevent possible complications from the transplant, such as infection, hemorrhage and rejection of the pancreas.

What is recovery like

During recovery, you may need to follow some recommendations like:

  • Perform clinical and blood tests, at first, weekly, and with time, it expands as there is recovery, according to medical indication;
  • Use pain relievers, antiemetics and other medications prescribed by a doctor, if necessary, to relieve symptoms such as pain and nausea;
  • Use immunosuppressive drugs, such as Azathioprine, for example, starting soon after the transplant, to prevent the body from trying to reject the new organ.

Although they can cause some side effects, such as nausea, malaise and increased risk of infections, these drugs are extremely necessary, as rejection of a transplanted organ can be fatal.

In about 1 to 2 months, the person can gradually return to normal life, as directed by the doctor. After recovery, it is very important to maintain a he althy lifestyle, with a balanced diet and physical activity, as it is very important to maintain good he alth so that the pancreas works well, in addition to preventing new diseases and even a new diabetes..

Risks of pancreas transplantation

Although, in most cases, the surgery has a great result, there is a risk of some complications due to pancreas transplantation, such as pancreatitis, infection, bleeding or rejection of the pancreas, for example.

However, these risks are reduced by complying with the endocrinologist's and surgeon's guidelines, before and after surgery, with examinations and the correct use of medication.

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